International PMO Framework Gets Global Project Back on Track

Challenge

A large-scale global retailer had employed a large consulting agency to manage a multi-million-dollar ERP implementation initiative spanning two continents. The requirements phase was underway. But corporate and international IT teams had traditionally operated with significant autonomy, and corporate IT leadership was already seeing that the pilot in-country team was steamrolling the consulting team stationed there. The client engaged Kalles Group to supplement corporate project management and bring the teams in line.

Recognizing Additional Need

Within the first few weeks, it became clear to the Kalles Group team that the client needed much more than project management support. The project plan lacked detailed tasks, firm commitment dates, and quality checkpoints. Status reports were manual, subjective, and inconsistent. While there were plenty of meetings, progress was slow and without clear direction, and the requirements that had begun rolling in were substandard.

The corporate international IT team was operating on a reactive basis to put out fires rather than proactively managing the project.

Kalles Group presented these observations to IT leadership with a proposal to expand the scope to define and implement a project framework that would provide discipline for all stages of the project lifecycle. Recognizing Kalles Group’s keen project leadership expertise, the client agreed to the proposal.

Tailoring Change

Kalles Group set to work to design a framework that would encompass all project elements, from policy and oversight to staffing, planning, training, and operations.

Kalles Group initially recommended transitioning to an Agile model to maximize flexibility and scalability for current and future international IT work. Leadership expressed the concern that this transition might be too ambitious and overwhelm the international teams. They requested that we design around a waterfall approach instead.

Remaining flexible, Kalles Group adapted its approach and began a multi-tiered roadmap for maturing operations of the combined corporate and international IT groups within a waterfall context.

The team built a robust, integrated prototype utilizing Smartsheet and other standard client tools.

The model included:

  • A comprehensive intake form to collect critical project attributes
  • Sample project plans and other artifacts automatically populated from the intake information
  • RACI matrix to clearly define responsibilities and ensure accountability
  • RAID logs to track and monitor risks, assumptions, issues, and decisions
  • Automated dashboards to report status consistently and objectively

Access and Buy-In

After a well-supported appeal, Kalles Group was granted direct access to international teams to observe their rhythm of work and project management practices.

From observation and experience, the Kalles Group team determined that the international teams would require context for the new process to ensure adoption. Kalles Group presented to them a detailed walk-through of a sample process workflow, illustrating how this model could provide a clear picture of team priorities and project status.

Face-to-face training guaranteed that concerns from international teams were addressed, and that all stakeholders were familiar with the new process and understood how to use the new tools.

Results

The Kalles Group team met the client where they were and navigated a challenging and constantly changing client landscape.

Through a disciplined approach of realistic observation and consistent and comprehensive client input, Kalles Group helped the client realize project objectives and define success.

Careful development based on input from all key stakeholders resulted in successful adoption of tools both dynamic and sturdy enough to augment and mature the project management capabilities for one of the largest retail enterprises in the world.